Atlas Magazine - Submissions Based Fashion Magazine Silvia Fado Footwear Designer 5

Silvia Fado Footwear Designer

Silvia Fado Footwear Designer

Silvia Fado is a footwear designer from Barcelona, designing shoes of the future. During her studies she developed a collection ‘Kinetic Traces’ based on a technological and mechanic look, with a strong architectural influence. Aiming for footwear that would be not only appealing to the eye but also functional and comfortable.

For SS16 she brought hydraulic heels to the next level by improving their earlier design to be more suited for everyday wear. She used traditional materials including the finest Italian leathers and hardwoods as well as acrylics, stainless steel and aluminium for the mechanics. All the heels were produced using cutting edge rapid prototyping technologies.

I started out studying architecture in La Salle but soon realized I was more drawn to creating something tangible that you can work and play with, so I changed to design. I graduated in Fashion in Esdi, Barcelona. After several years of professional experience in knitwear, I decided to follow my true passion: footwear. I moved to London for an apprenticeship in bespoke shoemaking with one of the most skilled shoemakers, Paul Thomas and went on to do a Masters in Fashion Footwear at the London College of Fashion. It was there that I developed my first collection: Kinetic Traces.


Silvia Fado Footwear Designer


Tell us a little about the process, the creative method and technique behind Kinetic Traces.

I have been analyzing comfort elements in footwear, particularly impact absorption, shoe weight, traction (the relationship between shoe and surface) and upper durability. I sought to bring these concepts into the design of high-end women’s high heels. The central concept of the project development was impact absorption, which was studied from a mechanical point of view because heels are structures which are affected by many different forces during the process of human motion.

Working with an architect helped me to study the interacting forces in the structure of the high heeled shoe during movement. A collaboration with a photographer made it possible to see the continuous movement broken down into individual parts as a diagram. To realize the absorption function, I introduced an element of internal movement into the structures. I collaborated with an engineer partner to develop the mechanisms as well as an industrial partner to enable production of the final product to an appropriate standard for the target market.

Impact absorption was developed using different mechanical methods not typically used in Fashion; adding features such as springs, rubber balls and, pneumatic hydraulics and metal rings. The metal ring function is a new system developed by the industrial partner that I worked with, allowing regulation of the absorption effect depending on body weight.

The methods used in the project include traditional making (leather work, traditional machinery making, metal work, wood shaping) and rapid prototyping (3D milling machine, laser cutting and 3D printing).

Which of your shoes are you most proud of?

I can’t choose so I’m mentioning two of my favourite designs. My first love is my rubber hydraulic systems sculptural style. It has been made all by hand in the studio from vegetan tanned leather, walnut wood shaped and rubber hydraulic system.

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The other design I am proud of are the hydraulic rings. This style has a hydraulic system inside the heel developed with my industrial partner that can be bespoke according to body weight to control the impact absorption. Materials used in the design are vegetan tanned leather, coloured nappa, acrylic and stainless steel.

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Are there any materials that you would like to experiment with more?

Carbon fibre and recycled materials interest me!

What are your personal thoughts on comfort and support vs style?

The principal functions of footwear are often sacrificed for fashion. This project brings sports footwear fundamentals to high-end fashion. Sports footwear design is based on function and wearability, which are not features commonly applied in fashion footwear. I am intrigued by the relationship between the movement of the body and Fashion footwear design on the one hand, and high performance sports footwear and body movement on the other. I wanted to explore the philosophical and aesthetic consequences of changing the dynamic of that relationship.

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How do you stay inspired or what are you inspired by at the moment?

Inspiration finds me when I do research! My way of getting inspired is looking into other disciplines that interest me like product design, architecture, engineering, furniture, art and so on.

Which designers/style did you look to when you were studying and who/what would you say had the biggest influence?

Iris Van Herpen, Alexander Wang, Maison Martin Margiela, United Nude between others.

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the fashion/shoe business?

It is a very competitive world, but when you feel passionate about it you have to let it come out and shine.


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More of Silvia Fado’s work can be found on her Website, Instagram and Facebook.
Fashion photography by Eliska Kyselková